Anxiety usually creeps into my house at night, when all are tired and moods have shifted. It surrounds us with a gloomy shroud, a fine mist of dread, ambivalence and upset, enough to make the strongest of minds find doubt and feel weak.
We have experienced much of this in the past few months with transition into high school. Everyone told me freshman year is the hardest, but you get through it. Keep calm and carry on, that sort of thing. Carry on we did, but not without some battle scars and illness. Scars likely to open up again and heal.
The local high schools perhaps having recognized that teen anxiety is at its peak, have begun a series of classes for parents about recognizing anxious behavior, its impact on students and how to cope. When I speak with other parents, It’s heartening to hear their stories. The “I feel socially awkward” or “I don’t know anyone and feel isolated” common to many of us, has provided a forum for discussion between parents I know, which has helped us come up with personalized coping tools for our teens. I would love to see some sort of social gathering within the school, where just the freshman class can gather and get to know each other, aside from freshman orientation.
When my youngest transitioned into middle school this year( another difficult phase), they had something called ‘a week of welcome.’ Lots of team building activities, team t-shirts that were color coded and a day trip to the beach with food provided by the school, made it fun. It is amazing how many friendships were made. Some are now un-made but the teachers work around it to ensure the environment is inclusive.
Marching band, the high school music program and cooking have saved my people many a time this past year. That sort of healing was a grounding of sorts, like an anchor.
“If music be the food of love, play on” wrote Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1
Anxiety and teen anxiety are much discussed topics in our home. We are all learning how to exist within that space and be mindful of who is most vulnerable at any given time. It seems to rotate. While we figure it out, we have also learned much about ourselves. Knowing that we help each other with simple gifts like chocolate, reading and running time for me, music, a teen/adult Tai Kwon Do class for my oldest and cooking for my youngest, we are certainly trying to live mindfully and patiently.
With roughly 5 months to go until the end of the school year, we are watching for Spring break and all of the small holidays that will give us time to reframe our minds and forget this year of transition. We are quietly looking for the positives that propel us onward.
When you face any sort of change, transition or anxiety, what keeps you positive and present?